Monday, October 22, 2007

Nothing worth having ...

I'm sure everyone else's parents joined mine in repeating ridiculous cliches that nobody ever paid attention to like, "wear clean underwear so if you're ever in a car accident ... " and "Nothing worth having comes easy" and "wear a condom." You know...pointless crap like that.

But as I get older, not only do I find myself checking my daughter's underwear for skidmarks, but I wholeheartedly believe that you will be made to suffer for everything in your life that is worth having.

As some of you know, and even fewer of you care, I started my own business in June. Money has been trickling in, but only a fraction of my previous income. This has led to an inordinate amount of strife and sacrifice within my family. After I donked off the last few dollars in my Full Tilt account, one of the sacrifices I had to make was poker (and indirectly this blog once I found out that nobody cares about what I have to say outside of my poker disasters).

I always knew I enjoyed the game, but I never realized what a place in my life it had taken until I could no longer piss away $125 a month in "entertainment" entry fees on Full Tilt. I had been a voracious reader of poker books, infrequent poster on message boards, avid podcast listener...all in an attempt to improve my lot in my game of choice. But once the money dried up and I could no longer ply my trade (hobby), I lost interest in those learning tools as well. Like a former athlete who cannot watch the game he/she once loved. Okay, maybe a really bad athlete who gave up sports to be an athletic trainer in high school...that's more in line with my poker skills.

All of that sob story out in the open, I recently closed a deal that will allow the family both to eat outside of soup kitchens and allow me to dive back into the Full Tilt landscape. Thankfully, just in time for BBTwo.


So good news everyone...dead money coming out!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The more things change...

Blue Jackets get blown out...Ohio State is number 1 in the country...and a promising fantasy football season goes in the toilet.

I drafted Thomas Jones. I dropped Thomas Jones. This morning.

The lesson as always...I'm an idiot.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Change in direction...

I have been writing this blog for others...for poker players and poker bloggers in the hopes that I'd be allowed into their (degenerate) inner circle. And yet, when you don't have any money to play poker, it's a little difficult to write about it. I was trying to write it for the horse racing industry to highlight the good in racing and try to attract more fans. Lately, with every major announcement involving drugs, cheating, online sites precluding many of us from watching certain races out of pure greed...how can I, in good conscience, try to bring ANYONE in as a fan. My recommendations will be the same as they have always been. Everyone needs to attend the Kentucky Derby, the fall races at Keeneland and the Little Brown Jug. And everyone needs to watch the Breeder's Cup and the Saratoga/Meadowlands double card on Hambletonian elimination day.

All of that said, I'm sure my readers will shrink from two to zero, but I am just going to start writing this for myself. Without any thought to anyone who may (or may not) be reading this. Therefore much of this may bore you. Some of it may confuse you. Hopefully some of it will enrage you. But the bottom line is it will "cleanse" me.

First thought...first departure from the old format...some dolt on ESPN wrote this about MY hockey team...the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"Pascal Leclaire, G, Blue Jackets: Let me be clear here; his perceived value has gone up. That's all. He's still Pascal Leclaire and I wouldn't touch him with a borrowed 10-foot pole. Back-to-back shuthouts doesn't change the fact that Leclaire had a .897 save percentage last season and that the Blue Jackets are, and I can't stress this enough, a terrible, terrible team. There are very few wins to be had here, and a whole lot of damage to be done to your save percentage and goals-against average. Don't do it."

Now...I agree to a certain extent. The Blue Jackets are (most likely) not going to be playing any meaningful games after the first of the year. They're (most likely) not making the playoffs. But anyone who knows anything about competition, not even about hockey, knows that this year the Blue Jackets are competing. Even teams with sub-par talent who compete cannot be "terrible, terrible."

So with all due respect for ripping off The Colbert Report ... a wag of the finger to you, Mr. Pete Decker. May you always be relegated to playing fourth fiddle to the "Talentless" Mr. Roto (who wouldn't have a legitimate, unique thought if all of the other fantasy writers died in a tragic cold cut buffet collapse at the yearly Vegas convention).

Friday, September 28, 2007

Just no time...and no money...

With a family and a new business...it is funny how the blog just doesn't seem important anymore. That said, somehow I found time to do this stupid thing that a few of the more "active" bloggers have done. My wife will be pleased to see my lack of nerd-dom.


NerdTests.com says I'm an Uber Cool Non-Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Send check to wippy1313 c/o ...

Blogger fantasy draft is now complete and I am confident in my superiority. The key to any fantasy draft, despite what podcasters and "experts" might tell you, is not discerning who is going to be the starting running back for the Falcons. If you're relying on Dunn or Norwood, you're in trouble. No, the key is understanding the league rules.

Virtually every fantasy league today operates under different rules. Some start x number of players and some start x+1...some give extra points for a TD of a certain length. The key is to understand those rules and exploit them in the draft. In this blogger league, QBs are given six points for a touchdown pass (same as RB and WR scoring a TD) and that makes them infinitely more valuable than 90% of the leagues out there. Key to this draft was getting what I consider to be one of the top four QBs in the league: Manning, Palmer, Brady and Brees. I ran numerous simulations and the QBs were, without a doubt, the most critical players.

So with the 8th pick in the first round, I was convinced I was going to get Manning. And as the picks went off the board, it was playing out exactly as I had expected. Tomlinson, Jackson, Johnson, Addai...all the players who are fantastic in most leagues, but not the best players in this league. Granted, had I had the #1 pick, I would have probably taken Tomlinson because he is so far and away the best RB, the others were over-rated. Then, the unthinkable happened. Schaubs took Manning right before me (Schaubs had a great draft). I was left looking at a Willie Parker vs. Palmer scenario. I took Palmer. And guess what? Parker was available coming back.

Long story short, I stuck to my guns, devalued WR and TE and highly valued QB and DEF and took a kicker with my final selection. Team looks like this:

QB
Palmer
Leinart

RB
Parker
Thomas Jones
Lamont Jordan
Ladell Betts

WR
Holt
Driver
Bruce
Santonio Holmes

TE
Cooley

DEF
Ravens

K
Graham

Back-up RBs are potentially superstars, but not confidently solid. Could be an issue. Bruce is an injury risk and Holt is already hurt, but I like my WR. Side note on Holt: I actually wanted to take either Javon Walker or Roy Williams, but with my clock reading 1:20 left to make a pick, it auto-picked Holt. I raised the issue with the commish...he gave me Walker...but I asked him to reverse it given the cacophony of moaning from the other players. If Holt's knee continues to be a problem, that could be the difference.

All-in-all, I feel relatively confident. There are still a few good players on the waiver wire and I think I have a good core. But the key is having a good QB. Those starting Romo, Hasselbeck, et al are at a real disadvantage. Then again, the guy starting Hasselbeck has Tomlinson...sooooo...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Look up: Non-sequitor

Blogger fantasy draft starts in one hour.

I bought my three-year-old a hamster last night.

May the lord have mercy on my soul.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Anybody need a RB?

My brother put together a last minute fantasy football league on espn.com for our family...so they can dip their toes in the water. No money. I know, what's the point, right? Well, the only reason I'm mentioning it is that if I can make this thing competitive it will be a miracle. I missed the first 13 rounds of the 17 round draft due to a prior commitment and when I got back, I had eight running backs, two tight ends and three wide receivers. One running back was Jamal Lewis. One WR was Terry Glenn, one was Joe Horn and the other was Roy Williams (thankfully).

I drafted Jay Cutler, Pittsburgh D/ST, Brandon Marshall, Olindo Mare...I already traded Thomas Jones and Terry Glenn for Marques Colston...so I'm pretty happy with my starting line-up...but my back-ups need help.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sorry to disappoint...

On Sunday night, I attended the annual draft of a fantasy football league that my dad and I have been in for years (well over 15). Many of the guys in it are those I play live poker with most frequently and also the meager stable of regular readers this blog boasts. The resounding message was: "For the love of God, PLEASE start writing about poker again...your other posts are boring and they suck."

A few even offered to give me some money to put into FT to get me writing about poker again. Wippy1313 on FT boys...until then ...

Speaking of fantasy football, given that the readers of this blog are my competition in the WLAG league at home, I will probably spend most of the time on here talking about my team in the "Bloggers are Ghey" league on fanball. It's ten poker bloggers, $100 entry fee...why, you ask, would I talk about that league on here, but not the other one? Because all of those poker bloggers are excellent poker players and have blogs FAR superior to mine. Therefore, they NEVER read this crap.

Draft is next Wednesday night.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

If a presidential candidate breaks an appendage...should we shoot them?

While watching an entire news segment on what the wife of a junior senator supposedly said about a female presidential candidate, that followed what the wife of a former Senator, hedge fund icon said about a right-wing wacko that only the most radical and deranged human beings even thinks is a real person...I expected the next story to be about the heat wave of '08 or the summer olympics.

Then it hit me. It's still 2007. The election is well over a year away.

I changed the channel, settled on my favorite spot on the directv remote and I started hearing about a two-year-old that just won an allowance race at Saratoga in his first start. Apparently he showed the making of a Derby winner. Okay, maybe it's not November '08, but it has to be March or April '08 if we're talking about a Kentucky Derby (presented by Yum! Brands), right? Nope. Still 2007.

You know...while political pundits often use the term "horse race" to describe presidential politics, there really are a lot of similarities.

1) The ridiculous advance hype is nothing more than fodder for talk shows and drunken debate. Whether Obama gets the endorsement of an immigrant grocer in April 2007 has ZERO impact on the 2008 presidential election. Likewise, a horse's maiden win at Saratoga tells us virtually nothing about the horse's long-term potential. Many Derby winners don't even win their last start before the Derby.

2) There is inevitably an early favorite for the big event that crashes and burns before the big day, whether due to injury (RIP Merv Griffin...may vowels be discounted for you in the great beyond) or due to complete lunacy.

3) There is always one contender who keeps everyone wondering, tongues-wagging over whether or not they will enter the race. And uniformly they wouldn't have a shot anyway. But that doesn't cease speculation or the tired stories about the "Trophy Wife" or the colt vs. fillies

4) There is excessive gambling on both.

5) Each season, there is a horse or a candidate that performs excessively well in a prep for their big moment. They weren't really a factor for the last year or 15 years, but one race over a fluke track or one surprisingly "unsucky" debate or meaningless partisan straw poll and suddenly, their zero percent chance of victory increases exponentially. Of course they always lose. Badly.

6) Both are really "sports" for true blue-bloods. Sure there are examples of lower-class citizens making serious runs at the winner's circle and the White House, but it is those with the best bloodlines and that are insured for the most that are the real contenders.

7) Regardless of what those inside the beltway and the folk between the twin spires say, both are still dominated by men.

8) Perhaps the most glaring and unexplained is the tendency for also-rans to go from the proverbial penthouse to the outhouse. Every year, there are several favorites for the Derby. The day of, there are usually several staunch camps who are convinced their horse is going to win based on supreme past performance, pedigree and workouts. And every year, only one camp is correct. But how many times does a horse go from one of those favorites in the Derby to an allowance grass race or bringing up the rear in the Ohio Derby? How could they have possibly been that good leading up to the Derby that they are one of the favorites to win the most celebrated race in the equine world...yet post-race, they're barely worth the hay they eat? Now...re-read that and replace Derby with Presidency, horses with candidates, workouts with debates and the Ohio Derby with obscure, reclusive Massachusetts senator.

Think about it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Vick, Ankiel, Donaghy, Imus, Bonds, Whitlock, Perverts

Yes...I'm going to attempt to weave all of these into this blog. Come along for the ride.

In my minimal and unsuccessful blogging experience, there are two types of blogs (no, not ones with naked women versus ones without naked women ... perverts). The two types are blogs that initially jump into your mind and fingers and you simply cannot wait to pound them into the blank canvas that is blogspot and blogs that "marinate" and fester and keep you awake at night until you figure out how to do them justice. This blog is decidedly the latter. It has truthfully been months in the making. And I hope I adequately convey the thoughts that have ruined many a night's sleep.

Before I dive into the meat of this story, let me get one thing straight so there's no confusion.

I hate Jason Whitlock.

He has always raised my ire with his early predisposition for reverse racism which has now transformed into frequent columns and positions causing many in the black community to call him an "Uncle Tom." This may be unfair, I admit, but it seems to me that Jason Whitlock lives to draw criticism and media coverage whether that be his unceremonious departure from ESPN or his "anti-Rutgers" position in the whole Don Imus situation. Okay, now that is out of the way, let me also get one thing straight so there's no confusion.

I agree with Jason Whitlock on one crucial issue: sports are nothing more than entertainment and the difference between the various acronyms (NFL, MLB, NBA, etc) and the WWE is drawing ever closer.

This was a statement Whitlock made some time back on the "Sports Reporters" and was essentially the beginning of the end of the relationship between ESPN and Whitlock. The show was discussing Barry Bonds and steroids at the time (as they have for the better part of a decade it seems) and Mike Lupica was advocating pseudo-McCarthyism/21st Century Salem Witch Trials to go after those doping and using steroids in sports. His righteous indignation was oozing from beneath his top-of-the-line Men's Wearhouse finery and it was obvious he was secure in assuming everyone was with him on this issue. To Lupica, sports are an institution, an untarnished eutopia of all that is good and pure, a daily or weekly struggle of two forces of good nature, hard work and preparation in a Darwinian struggle for our respect and admiration.

Suddenly, Lupica's momentum was brought to a screeching halt as Whitlock declared that to him, sports are nothing more than entertainment. The looks on Mitch Albom and Lupica's faces were genuine, abject horror. I looked on, screaming at the long-time object of my loathing that he was an idiot. To you, Mr. Whitlock, on this issue, I owe you an apology.

See, to many, especially sports writers, sports hover somewhere between human and heaven, theoretically never to actually collide with either. The truth is, sports are nothing more than a microcosm of society in the same way that TV dramas and movies reflect the times and the issues facing their viewers. They are not above real life, they are life. Both the entertainment and sports industries manufacture heroes. They merchandise the hell out of them. But does anyone actually believe that Martin Sheen is the President of the United States? No. No matter how much they wish he were.

And likewise, nobody should look at Charles Barkley and see a hero...a hard-working, tough nosed basketball player who overcame his physical limitations to be one of the best rebounders in the history of the NBA. That's his SPORTS persona. He is not a real life hero: he told you as much. Once that jersey is sweatily and safely hanging in the locker after a game, he ceases to be Sir Charles. He is just Chuck. Just Charles.

So then...why do the Lupicas of the world insist that sports are some bastion for the holier than thou? The answer always is: because once, the game was great. Once, players played for the love of the game, not the money. Once, players like Gehrig and Robinson and Ali and Thorpe roamed the fields, courts and rings of sport. THEY were heroes. Sports and its participants were people to be revered. Players like Joe DiMaggio even fought in World War II!

Well guess what? So did over 16 million other Americans. They too, were heroes...even if they never donned the pinstripes. Sports were a microcosm of society. Was Jackie Robinson a hero for "breaking the color barrier?" Absolutely. But so were Rosa Parks. And Martin Luther King, Jr. And I don't remember them ever touting their Wonderlic score or vertical leap. Robinson's accomplishments, while historic, were not unique. There were color barriers breaking all over the United States.

But guess what. For every DiMaggio, there was a Ty Cobb. For every Robinson, there was a Jim Brown who, while touting improvements in race relations, was repeatedly assaulting wives and girlfriends. But were there more heroes in DiMaggio's baseball than in Canseco's baseball? Sure. But were there more houses left unlocked in the 40s and 50s? Were there fewer gun and drug-related crimes? Was America unequivocally a better place to live than it is today? Absolutely. Sports are a microcosm of society.

Are you with me so far? Regardless, I have the power to keep writing. Okay, even if you agree with this premise, that sports aren't and never have been some above-reproach panacea for the world's ills and those that play sports are simply humans, what is left? Entertainment. I firmly believe it is this longing for a simpler. better time that is at the root of our desires to place sports and athletes on a pedestal. That, along with the fact that the highlight of too many men's lives are their high school exploits and therefore they are left to live vicariously through the professional combatants in their respective sports.

But the historical perspective is the primary of the two. It is almost as if the sports intelligentsia feel as if they owe a debt to those that have come before. The real heroes. They owe a debt to protect their "game" ... protect their place in its pantheon of greats. This is at the core of record and drug controversies. While many people would argue that you cannot compare eras in the various sports, what are records except a medium to compare eras? Wilt Chamberlain holds MOST NBA scoring records. And yet there are few who would argue that Wilt is the best player, and CERTAINLY not the best scorer, in the history of the NBA. If records are so important, then shouldn't he be the best player? Nope. So if those records aren't used to select the best player, what are they designed to do?

This brings us to Barry Bonds. And Lance Armstrong. And others. Did Barry Bonds use steroids? You better freaking believe it. But did Palmeiro? Yep. McGwire? Uh huh. Did Bonds hit more home runs than those guys? Sure did. Is Bonds a better home run hitter than Ruth? Who knows. Different eras, bodies and bats. But Ruth was the best in his era. Bonds is the best in his. But Bonds extra home runs aren't the deciding factor in who is a better player. So what is the freaking fuss? Likewise with Lance Armstrong. If we have learned anything from cycling since his retirement, it's that freaking EVERYONE in that "sport" is using something. Allegations of doping by Armstrong shouldn't diminish his amazing accomplishments in the least bit.

Am I advocating using steroids? Absolutely not. Should they be tested for? Undoubtedly. We do not want our games to turn into the all-drug Olympics. But we're never going to be able to test for everything. Someone is going to be on something. But are we going to put an asterisk beside every game, every record? Of course not. That's ridiculous. The fundamental question is, does it matter? The answer is no. Sports are entertainment. Rick Ankiel's return to the Major Leagues as an outfielder, after completely losing his freaking mind and doing his best "Wild Thing" impersonation...that's a fantastic story. One of the best in a long time. Does anyone think, "this is a great story, but if he's drinking coffee for extra energy, it all goes for naught." Sports are the first reality show. Unscripted drama. Entertainment.

This brings us to Donaghy. Why are officials banned from playing blackjack? Why this outrage against an official when players in the NBA are routinely involved in shootings, drug crimes, strangulations, etc.? Because officials in a blackjack pit or Donaghy involved with bookies trashes the concept that this is UNSCRIPTED drama. "Fans" of the NBA want to suspend disbelief that everything in sports is completely on the up-and-up. Common, Las Vegas gamblers don't want to think they could be parlaying their $5 on a pre-determined outcome. It destroys the image. Don't believe me? Why then has the Rick Tocchet and Janet Gretzky gambling cesspool not captured and sickened America? Because nobody cares about the NHL. It doesn't even have an image to protect.

This brings the discussion to Vick. Why is he being vilified? Sure, he committed a felony. But so have a lot of others. That's not at the core. Fundamentally, the people that run the NBA, the NFL, MLB, etc. understand that they are in a business. The entertainment business. And what happens when Tom Cruise goes completely insane? His movie box office receipts suffer. So why did Pacman Jones get suspended before he was convicted? Why was Michael Vick asked not to report to training camp? Because they were bad for business. Pacman is just an idiot...a felonious idiot who stands for everything the NFL tries NOT to portray.

But Vick. Vick's reprehensible actions touched the emotions of every pet-owner in America, not to mention angered a loony, but loud, activist group. Did you EVER hear the NFL stand-up for him? Even before the facts were known? How many sports figures and celebrities have drug out their trials, received ridiculous verdicts, etc. Did you notice Vick was hung out to dry and agreed to jailtime almost instantly? He committed the ultimate sin of committing a crime that could not be washed away by an insincere trip to an alcohol recovery facility. He was bad for business. People might stop buying the merchandise, going to the box office, I mean ticket office.

You don't believe me? You think this is cynical, borderline conspiracy theory? I assure you, my coffee isn't padlocked in my padlocked fridge...although perhaps it should be. Let me give you a prime example. Barry Bonds. We've discussed his "atrocities" and he is being crucified...rightly or wrongly. Explain Jason Giambi's situation to me. His steroid use was leaked in the SAME grand jury testimony as Bonds. Surely he is receiving the same treatment, right? I mean, he was MVP during his reign of needles. That should be revoked, right? Hardly. He, in fact, received the Comeback Player of the Year given out by, you guessed it, Major League Baseball. Why? Because he was contrite. Because he was a "feel-good" story. Bonds on the other hand, viciously attacked the pristine record books. Bonds is an asshole. Bonds refused to apologize. He is crucified, while Giambi is lauded. The difference? Image. Entertainment.

Does this only apply to pro sports? Absolutely not. How many college players have been arrested and yet upon their return to the team, they are cheered by the alumni faithful? At my the object of my own Saturday afternoon reverence, we have carried many a criminal on our figurative shoulders while Maurice Clarrett is one of the words you'll be fined for saying out loud. Why? Not because of his crimes. Not because of the shame he brought to the University. But because he only brought ONE national championship to the school. Cris Carter was kicked out of school, but because he put in several good years, he is now a iconic figure.

But the fundamental question is, does this matter? It does and it doesn't. It doesn't matter because sports are what they are. And we love them for it. We love cheering our team. We love revering our "heroes" and crucifying our villains. We love the drama on Saturdays, or Sundays or any other day of the week. We love to be entertained. But we need to see it for what it is and not place undue appreciation and reverence upon our sports or its participants. It DOES matter because rules are rules and crimes are crimes and EVERYONE needs to be treated the same. That is fairness. That is justice. Am I saying Bonds' record shouldn't be stricken? Not necessarily. But then Giambi's MVP must be revoked (he can keep the comeback player of the year..who cares).

Even in reality shows, there are rules that must be obeyed for them to retain credibility. And lord knows we can't get enough of those. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to split screen Top Chef and the Yankees.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A lesser man wouldn't post this...

Remember that when you're reading and shaking your head at what a disaster I am.

The FTOPS main event was yesterday...in FTOPS IV, I qualified for the ME and went deep without cashing and it has haunted me ever since. This time around, with $2 million at stake, I was just convinced it was my turn. But as astute readers of this drivel will know, my account was empty. SOOOOO...after saving a little cash this week, I dropped $75 in the account to take a run at the satellite on Saturday night.

I truthfully cannot even tell you how I busted. I was never engaged, never really got a hand...and yet I still outlasted over 500 of the 1,200 entrants. Says more about them than it does about me. The only thing I can say is that I played with scared money. I knew that this was my chance and played very cautiously. With A-K, I flopped a K on a somewhat ragged board, but with four other people in the pot, I worried about trips. I played small-ball poker to the river when runner-runner spades completed a possible flush. With three of us left in, original bettor tossed 300 at a 1,200 pot. I just called. Third player popped it another 1,100. With 2,000 left, I talked myself into the fact that he had backed into a flush and folded. He showed KQ. I NEVER lay that down ordinarily. I would have gone back through the hand and the story just wouldn't add up...so I make the call. But playing with scared money ...

The only thing worse is playing with STUPID money and that's what I did on Sunday. I signed-on with a plethora of $24 +2 satellites going on. I only had $20. So I jumped into a PL Omaha table hoping to run it up. After getting up to $24, I got knocked down to $9 and got it all-in with a pair and a straight draw after a big pot developed and I just hoped to get a piece...knowing full well I was WAAAAAAY behind. Understatement. Bayne_s had a full boat. As LJ said, "That's what you get for playing with Bayne." Touche.

FTOPS V comes and goes with my participating in a measly one event (HORSE) and 0 cashes. That makes three total FTOPS events for me, one cash. Next time around, I will have a bankroll and take FTOPS by storm. Mark my words.

But congratulations to cmitch who took this main event by storm with a finish around 80 and a several thousand dollar payday. I know he's slightly disappointed he didn't go deeper, but that's quite a performance if you ask me. And a begrudging congratulations to jbaggs who finished sixth in the ME for a five figure score. This SOB is the one who ran the KQ bluff on me in the satellite.

Ugh.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The blog's next phase

First, let's get this straight...I am not giving up poker. I will continue to look for options to play live and will continue to follow the business of poker. That said, there just simply isn't any money to re-load my FT account (or my long-ignored Stars account) until my business begins to take off. So as far as poker content, it may be little and far between for the time being. And yet, I have really come to appreciate this as an outlet for my thoughts...poker related or not. So I hope some of you will continue down this road with me while I explore other topics and other parts of my consciousness outside the realm of poker.

Especially those Walter Mathieu fans that have found me. Thank you, Google.

Now a question to any fellow bloggers reading this. How in the world do you find time to blog every day or even every other day? There are so many times during the day (and even more at night) that I think of a topic, but simply cannot find time to write it. Compound that with the fact that when I want to actually tackle an issue, I want to do it justice. Cranking out poker content is easy. But to take on an issue like Barry Bonds, presidential politics, parenting or others, I want to draft a product I am proud of...not one that simply ensures my traffic continues to spike due to a new post. I would love to hear any thoughts.

Until I can tackle some of the larger issues properly, here are a few random thoughts:

-- Is anyone as distressed at Drew Carey taking over the Price is Right as much as I am? Carey is an Ohio boy...I watched his sit-com periodically. I don't begrudge him success. But when the you can't some up with anything better than "Buzz Beer" to name your fictional home-brew or star of your show is a hideously painted creature with a voice capable of breaking every light bulb on the strip after one sentence...are you really in a position to take over for an American icon? How many of us played hooky from school/work, er, were legitimately sick (read: hungover), and thanked the good lord that Price is Right existed so that there was something worth watching on daytime TV...pre-online poker of course. Cliffhanger, Plinko, Rod Roddy, Showcase Showdown, "Have your pets spayed or neutered,"punch-a-bunch...all became parts of the American lexicon thanks to this watershed game show. This is not to mention the hideously wrinkling and shudder-inducing "Barker's Beauties" or the fact that Barker himself died 15 years ago and has been replaced with an animatronic proto-type with a 500-word vocabulary and minimal facial expressions. None of it matters. Bob Barker (or his robot alter-ego) IS Price is Right. And I swear to God, if anyone steps up to play 5 Price Tags or the grocery game and one of the items is Buzz Beer, I'll start the "Kill Drew" campaign.

-- Can anyone with depression adequately relay what it does to your psyche, your moods and your relationships? I indicated in an earlier blog that I am struggling with this condition, am taking medication...and I have noticed my interactions with friends, family and clients are dramatically better. Then there are those "other" times. Times where I feel utterly alone, incapable of anything resembling constructive thought or productive work and my entire outlook on the world and life has a distinctly gray tinge to it. It's those times I seem incapable of describing. My wife is left helpless, wanting to "cure" it, but devastated and angry at the transformation and has inexplicably come over me. I know she can't cure it. But I so desperately want her to be able to understand.

-- What is a more distressing outcome of the internet...blog hacks cranking out material on poker and Bob Barker or podcast morons cranking out pointless banter that is subscribed to by thousands of zombies with the "if it's on the internet, it has to be good" mindset. At least you can't hear my pre-pubescent, tentative monotone vocal output through this blog. You may lament the fact that I don't have a "writer's voice" ... but it's nothing that can make yours ears shrivel. And yet, everyone with a laptop microphone, a stupid hobby and a TON of free-time is rushing to "podcast." There are some DREADFUL ones out there...ones with the validity of being on i-tunes, that can literally make my stomach churn. I liken it to people putting microphones in people's basements or in their cars during 16-hour car trips and just recording the outcome. The production value is similar, the lack of purpose, the inane topics are essentially the same.

-- On a related topic, are Americans too busy podcasting and blogging to do anything productive? Our educational prowess, corporate might and dominance over certain Olympic sports have all diminished dramatically. But even worse is the state of American music. Can you name one non-American Idol creation, non-rapper and non-hillbilly (no offense) musician that is worth ANYTHING that has come out of the US lately? In a nation of this size, there HAS to be someone with some lyrical and vocal talent. I was flipping through my Ipod playlist today and found: Stephen Fretwell, Damien Rice, Arctic Monkeys, Amy Winehouse, Tragically Hip, James Blunt (I know, I know), Evanescence, Death Cab for Cutie, Kellie Pickler's implants...all are either foreign bands/musicians or American Idol creations. Seriously...name one American musician from the last 5-10 years that's worth a damn. And if ANYONE says Fergie, Jessica Simpson, Justin Timberlake, Fall Out Boy or Nickelback I swear I will puke.

It'll get better, I swear...keep coming back.

** NOTE: For those of you smart enough to figure this out, yes, you're correct. My goal with this blog was to be SO boring and devoid of anything resembling humor that SOMEONE re-loads my FT account so I can go back to writing about my laughter-inducing and pathetic poker exploits.

Mission accomplished.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I'm an honest to God disaster...

SOOOOO...I found out last week that my father-in-law has to have immediate open-heart surgery. As a result, we needed to go to Pittsburgh to spend some time with him and have him see his grand-daughters before his procedure. The secondary impact of that is, of course, a lack of any FTOPS participation over the weekend due to the fact that my in-laws are still running an Apple IIc and don't have internet access. SOOOOO...of course I took the $50 +5 I had budgeted for FTOPS 6 satellite and took a run at the turbo PL HE event.

It ended...poorly.

I was actually cruising along rather well, still in the top 100 and in a position to get a seat when I got pocket queens in the cutoff. With blinds at 120/240, I had over 3,000 which was healthy at the time, but as is oft the case in Turbos, it was going to become desperate rather quickly. The UTG player called and UTG+2 bumped it to 720. I didn't particularly respect that raise, I knew he had something, but I thought my queens were best. To try to isolate him, I bet pot (2,760). The button promptly went all-in for his last 1,100. Blinds folded and UTG limper folded and the initial raiser called. I figured I was up against an under-pair and AK or AQ.

As you can see, not exactly:


That knocked me down to under 500 chips and clearly in a desperate situation. With the blinds coming around, I pushed with one of my least favorite all-in hands, A9 and doubled-up:


Still massively short-stacked, I picked up another Ace-rag in the BB and pushed on a limper. He called with face cards and a paired-ace doubled me up again:


Almost in position again to get a seat, I was beginning to think it was my destiny to stage a fantastic come-back and cash again in the PL HE FTOPS...this was my event. I own PL HE. Allen Cunningham can kiss my ass.


Or not.

On the button, with KQ, action limped around to me and a very short-stack in the SB, I bet pot hoping to just pick up the blinds. As expected, SB called with nothing, but BB re-raised me pot. Tank, here I come. I really didn't think he had a hand...I figured that he saw me raise from the button and that I wouldn't be willing to risk my tournament life on a steal. But he wasn't a reckless player and something told me he had a hand. I was prepared to fold, but here is where my lack of a psychological game killed me once again. I thought, well, if I fold, I would "only" have a little over 1,000 chips left...so even if he has AA, KK, QQ or JJ I'm better off to try to draw out on him than be stuck with "only" 1,000 chips. So I called. And you see the result.

What kind of moron must I be to be sitting in position for a seat, be re-raised, think I was on the bad end of it, having just come back from less than 500 chips and to give-up and just call because trying to draw-out is better than being left with 1,000 chips? Pathetic. Just pathetic. So I went out in 140ish with top 110ish getting seats. There are no excuses. I'm an idiot.

That said, I really hope my few readers enjoy things other than poker. Politics, sports, my daughters, paint colors, fantasy football and patio furniture, because with .29 in my FT account and no re-loading money in the offing, this is going to turn into a general interest blog in a hurry. Good-bye FTOPS, good-bye bankroll...I hardly knew ye.

Friday, August 10, 2007

You know who I hate almost as much as Phil Gordon? David Singer. And Allen Cunningham.

At some point you would think I would accept blame for my own play and my own lack of "mental game." Naah. After the named poker pros, I would also like to blame FT. Over 1,000 players entered FTOPS Event #2, the HORSE event. So what do you suppose it paid? 200 spots? 100? Nope. 56. Top 5%. The minimum payout for that 55 was over $1,100. Now, I understand what you're BOTH thinking: well, if you play to win, it shouldn't matter. True. But now let's be realistic. For me, at this point, FTOPS is about satelliting in and hoping to cash. That's my goal. And when that goal requires being in the top 5%...chances are pretty slim.

And given that opening paragraph, you can probably guess I didn't finish in that top 5%. I feel that individually, my game in the components of HORSE is pretty strong, but I continue to struggle both with switching games/gears and not tangling too much early when it doesn't matter. It's easier in NL or PL HE, but when you're in the second and fourth levels of HORSE, those starting hands on OE8 and stud are easy to mentally put lipstick on hands that should be pigs.

That said, I battled, up and down through the first round of HORSE, but with blinds at 80/160 in the HE portion, I picked up QJ in the small blind. One early limper who was a very weak player so I popped it. I should have known better though. BB, was stubborn and overplaying hands all night, called and so did the limper. Board came ragged 6c-3c-7d and I bet out. BB called. Again. And as expected, early limper folded.

Turn came another seven and I thought I would try to make a move and check-raise because I knew he would bet if I checked. I really didn't put him on anything. He did bet, I raised and he called. River was a 3d. So straight draw out, possible sets, even boats, all undercards against a guy who had been showing aggression the entire hand, but was playing rather tight all along...and of course, BB called my final bet...


Yes, ladies and gentlemen...96o. Now, I will call is play donkish until the end of creation, but in review, I suppose I could see an omission in my thinking. I knew what I thought he had, but what did he think I had? I raised from the SB pre-flop after a limper. Would I do that with a middle pair? Probably not. High pair? Maybe, but perhaps he's a slow-player so he thinks everyone else is too. So what is my logical holding? AK? AQ? AJ? KQ? all of which are no good. Bottom line, I lost about 1/3 of my stack on that hand.

That put me on tilt, I played too many hands and was down below 1,000 chips before I knew it. I managed to compose myself, tighten up my starting requirements and rolled through OE8 and Razz and got back up to an almost starting stack. One frustrating Razz suck-out hand later, I had about 2,000 chips left and found [KK] 5 to start stud. Long story short, put opponent on split queens when he in fact had rolled up trips. Good times. Out about 650th. A LONG way from 56.

*******

Meanwhile, back at the bat cave, I was on the roller coaster ride known as the PL HE satellite. One part of my HE game I have been working on is betting my draws. With my stack at about 3,000 after starting with 2K, I picked up AdQs in the small blind. UTG +1 limped and I raised pot. BB called and limper called. Flop came down a BEAUTIFUL Qd-9d-4d. I bet pot and much to my shock, the BB raised me. Limper folded and got out of the way and I insta-shoved. I figured, even if I was facing a set, I had the nut flush re-draw. Moron turns over Jd3d. Apparently that's worth a call out of the BB. And, may I add, he was under 1,000 chips when he made this play. The call of my initial raise was about 1/4 of this stack. As you can see, another diamond did not fall.


SOOOOO...down to around 2,000, I pick up Ks6s on the next orbit in the small blind. It's folded around to me, I call the weak, tight BB and he checks as expected. Flop comes down 5s-8s-Jh. I bet pot, expecting to take the hand, but the BB pushes over the top of me for all his chips. Again, I insta-call figuring he probably has J-x. Nope. Q-8o. Not only do I not get another spade, but just for one final kick in the balls, nice river.


So, I nurse my short-stack for a little while and then push the last 550 or so with this beauty:


After blinding down a little more, there are two limpers and I find j9 in the small blind. I figure I can push here, blinds will fold and limpers will fold. Plan ALMOST worked. SB, BB and first limper all fold, but second limper calls with AJ. Thankfully, sometimes suck-outs happen FOR good people too.


I was still well below average, but hanging in there. A few hands later, I bet pot with AJ from middle position and everyone folded...and I just started thinking that I might get a seat as there were only about 150 people left and the top 94 got seats. The VERY next hand, I got AQ from the cutoff. I bet pot and the SB puts me all-in. I call, he shows JJ and I'm out.


As you can see, I have some good company as fellow BBTer jeciimd busted out just after me.

Due to a family situation, I will not be able to play in the satellite for Clonie's 500K guarantee so I may take that $50+5 and play the turbo PL sat tonight...but we'll see if I can stand anymore self-flagellation. And if I can get over my hatred of tonight's host, Allen Cunningham.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I hate Phil Gordon

I've always found him arrogant, self-righteous, whiny and someone who has parlayed an appearance on Celebrity Poker into a media "empire" where he promptly derides poker players who gain celebrity through artificial means. Huh. Really, Phil? I listen to his ESPN podcast just to hate him and I listened to the WSOP podcasts on expertinsight just to revel in his defeats.

All that said, I now have a new reason to hate Phil Gordon. He was the "host" of FTOPS 1 last night, the $500K guaranteed NL HE event. As I indicated yesterday, while I busted out of the 50+5 tournament on Tuesday night, I was parlaying my money saved by cheaply satelliting into the HORSE event to play the turbo sat last night. And so I did. Phil Gordon, kiss my ass.

With blinds at 60/120, I'm still right about the starting stack. I get dealt 8-8 on the button. Not exactly a monster, but with UTG flat-calling and everyone else folding to me, I figured it was time to make a stand with the blinds creeping up. I raised it up to 540. SB and BB folded and the UTG called for time. I thought maybe a ragged, suited ace or smaller pair than mine and I felt in good shape. I was relatively happy when he turned over 8s9s. Of course you can see the results. Good times.


That crippled me, but didn't knock me out. But 4-4 ran up against AK and a flop of x-K-K ended that tournament.

SOOOOO...I just quit, right? I mean, I barely had any money left in my account and there were many more FTOPS events, right? Nope I joined a $69 last chance tournament. Ran AK into AA after a J-x-J-K board. Blow me, Phil Gordon.

So of course, NOW I'm done, right? I mean, I only have $21 in my account. Yeah right. After multi-tabling .05/.10 games, I made enough in two minutes to join the last, last chance tourney. Single table, winner gets a seat. I can do it, right? First hand:


Now, I have never been one of those people that says online poker is rigged. I think it's a result of two things: people playing a lot more hands online and a lot more hands going to the river because people are too dumb to fold. That said, I'm pretty sure Full Tilt rigged this so that everyone dumb enough to play this, got exactly what they deserved.

So my account sits at .60. Again. Luckily, I knew me affinity for doing this. So the money I won the night before and that day playing higher limit PL HE, I used to buy into two other satellites (PL HE and Main Event) and I already won my seat to HORSE. So I'll still have a shot. But Phil Gordon, your smiling mug staring back at me on the FT software was too much and I just had to enter that tournament to get a piece of "your" money. You, sir, are a douchebag.

Some might call this a gambling problem. But I truly think it is more of an ego problem. I don't do this with slots or blackjack or anything else. I play with the money I have at those games and quit, whether ahead of behind, because I feel like it's all luck (yes, blackjack and video poker players, I know that you can close to negate the house edge over the long-run, but short-term results are luck...so bite me). But poker, I feel like if I only get a chance in these larger tournaments, I am going to cash and be successful. So see, Madame Therapist, it's an ego problem, NOT a gambling problem.

Ooops, time to wrap this up. there might be a .50 cent satellite starting soon. Only 10 straight wins and I get a seat in some tourney. I think first prize is a Phil Gordon voodoo doll.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Well...if I don't make any more...

I qualified for FTOPS 2 ... the HORSE event in an $8 satellite today. One seat given out...46 players. Not braggin'. I'm just saying.

SOOOOOO...the money I was GOING to use to satellite into the HORSE event will now go to the 6:30 turbo sat for FTOPS 1.

Play the rush.

FTOPS off to a Quadarrific start

As I laid out yesterday, I bought into my first FTOPS satellite last night. $50 +5 for entry into FTOPS #1 ($216 NL HE), but the best part was FT making them non-turbo tournaments and giving starting stacks of T2,000. *rubbing hands* Eeeeexcellent.

With over 650 entrants and 150 getting seats, conscientious poker was the name of the game. A lot of folding in the first few levels, not trying to get involved in any hands at the 10/20 and 20/40 levels that might bust me. I have altered my approach a little early in these large tournaments. I tried for the longest time to enter a lot of pots early in tournaments hoping to catch a big hand and bust someone. I've found that the implied value isn't all that great though as in these larger tournaments, the percentage of solid players is a little higher and if you have, oh, I don't know, 5-5, and you make a set or play 7s8s and the flop comes 6-9-10, you're probably not going to get a lot of action. You're more likely to play 10 hands, lose 20% of your stack by the time the third level starts.

SOOOOO...played very tight. Won a few small pots, got dealt QQ in back-to-back hands and didn't see a flop either time. About 45 minutes into the tournament, I was still hovering around the starting stack, with blinds at 30/60. I picked up, oh, I don't know, say 5-5 on the button. Oddly, there were four callers by the time action got to me. I just called, hoping to flop a five, or most likely, fold. The small blind called and the BB checked so we went to the flop seven-handed.

Flop came down Kh, 3c, 3h. Gotta figure there's a K out there and maybe an A3, so my fives are no good. Surprisingly, the action was checked around. I was happy to see a free card in hopes of catching a five, preferably of hearts so I could felt someone with a nut flush. Much to my surprise...as rarely happens, I called for the five and it fell, 5s. I dialed in and focused on the action before me, trying to figure an amount that would get maximum profit out of this hand. But my radar went up when first-act min-bet. With seven people still in the hand, this is HIGHLY suspicious.

He got four callers and I just decided to call, hoping that a heart would fall on the river...but in the back of my mind, I started worrying about KK. River was a 6s. No flush, but did put a straight on the board (although highly unlikely as someone would have had to play 2-4 or 4-7). First-act min bets AGAIN. Now I have a STRONG suspicion I am beat. Here I am, sitting on a full boat, and I am convinced I'm beat. Shockingly, player to his left raises to 240. Here was the only mistake I feel I made. I re-raised to 780. If I was so convinced I was beat, I should have been happy to win what was in the pot. That said, chances are really good that the initial raiser was going to do the honors as he made it 1,320.

Initial raiser flat calls. I have about 500 chips left, but I just KNOW I'm beat by KK here and I want to try to stay alive so I also flat call. Here you go:


Not ONLY was I beat by quads, the six on the river gave me a worse boat. Now, I am not going to rush to 2+2 and post the hand and ask how I could have gotten away from my boat. There's no way I am not seeing the river here, most likely. I knew I was beat, I was right, but I still had enough chips left to fight another day. It happens. I just wish it didn't happen in a $50+5 satellite. But that's why people of my mediocre means shouldn't be playing these higher buy-in tournaments. Entertainment, right?

Bust-out hand was anti-climactic. An orbit later, I picked up 4-4 UTG with blinds going up and I shoved. Folded around. I immediately got moved to another table and was UTG again. I got A8, one of my LEAST favorite hands to shove, but getting the BB and having a stack of around 400, I did it anyway. FT decided to give me one final kick in the balls as it unceremoniously sent me to the rail:


I figured I would lose to AJ or AQ or 9-9...not AA AND 10-10. Good times.

So there's my first foray into the latest iteration of FTOPS. If I can restrain myself, I will avoid the $50+5 turbo satellite tonight and focus on the HORSE event. But, as all nine readers of my blog know, restraint isn't my best feature. It's somewhere near the bottom along with my receding hairline, expanding waistline and affinity for Chicken in a Biskit crackers.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Quickly...

I just checked my blog stats...just for fun. And I know that I don't post a lot or have a lot of technically interesting poker analysis, but it appears I have nine religious readers because every time I post, I get nine hits on my blog. Nine. Wow. Thanks to my mom, my parole officer, Andy Dick and my other six readers.

On a similar topic, I checked where the majority of my readers ordinarily come from. One of my top referring pages is a google search on Walter Mathieu. I referenced Mathieu in my eulogy for my grandfather. And that's one of the top ways people find my blog.

Good times.

As a PR professional, if I really care about someone reading this drivel, perhaps I should put some of my "tricks" to good use.

Lord help me...

I'm actually anxious about the first FTOPS satellite tonight. Lord, help me. I'll need it.

As I indicated below, I am bust in my FT account. While I did re-load for the expressed, written intent of playing in the FTOPS events ONLY, I thought it made some sense to reflect upon my goals for my $130 deposit some time ago.

1) Buy PokerTracker (nope...never had the money laying around)
2) USE PokerTracker (see above)
3) Keep track of success in token frenzies to check for +EV (didn't play in any)
4) Play in only token sit n gos (Was 2-2 so I had that going for me, which is nice)
5) Do not directly buy-in to any tournament over $10+1 (HA! If that didn't include the 50-50)
6) Do not play any cash games higher than .25/,50 until bankroll is doubled (HA! If that didn't include the 50-50...and Omaha)
7) Do not play any Hi/Lo games (nada)
8) PL HE is preferred, actually play it (I don't think I played any NL HE cash games)

Sooooooo...looks like I managed to complete three of the above. Sort of. Wow that's weak. No wonder I went bust. For me, I still think the above stipulations would lead to winning poker. But sadly, it appears we'll never find out.

See y'all in FTOPS.

Monday, August 6, 2007

BBT Freeroll, FTOPS

A quick note on the second-chance BBT freeroll from last week. I likened the second chance I received in this tournament, by having it completely started over, to getting an inquiry in a horse race you were sure you lost. If that's true, then the results of the second-chance tournament are synonymous with realizing that you weren't even watching the correct horses and your horse actually pulled up in the backstretch.

As I indicated, I got home from PIB last week...specifically, 9:55 on Thursday night. The freeroll started at 10. I got the family and the luggage out of the car, unpacked the suitcase, got the kids in bed and fired p the computer by about 10:10 or 10:15. I had lost a few blinds, but with the starting stacks as big as they were, it didn't even make a dent. I should have just let it blind me out.

DD, I owe you an apology. You were actually the better of the two of us in this event. By far. Technically, I think I still placed better than you did. But that's irrelevant. I cannot remember a single hand from the tournament. I cannot remember the hand I busted out on. All I remember is that Hoy knocked me out on a hand that I remember thinking, "I don't know that I have ever played a hand this badly." I can remember hands from tournaments I played five years ago. And I can't remember a single hand from last Thursday's freeroll.

You think state of mind doesn't make a difference in poker? Game of luck. Right.

Again, DD, I'm sorry. In fact, I'm also sorry about the burglar jokes the night you wore all black to our league championship. I'm sure you were just doing a Johnny Cash thing to get respect. But I have to tell you, "ring of fire" wasn't about poker.

FTOPS V starts tomorrow on Full Tilt. Well, it starts for me tomorrow as it's the first $50+5 satellite and those are the only attempts I'm making to get into any of the fields. With $7 million in guaranteed prize money, it's the closest I get to playing for "real money." I have my eye on Event #1 (500K guaranteed NL HE), Event #2 (150K guaranteed HORSE), Event #3 (200K guaranteed PL HE), Event #6 ($1 million guaranteed NL HE) and the Main Event ($2 million guaranteed). If I can manage to first get INTO any of these tournaments and secondly CASH in any of these tournaments, I might also try for Event #8 (Omaha Hi/Lo)...but frankly, that's asinine.

On a more important note, I just got my hat for cashing in the PL HE event in FTOPS IV. And by more important, I mean, please bid on Item #195050302 on e-bay and buy the damn hat so I have some money to try to enter the above tournaments. I have .70 cents in my FT account right now.

*sigh*

Friday, August 3, 2007

"Why God? Show your hand...why can't one guy understand?"

NOTE: This blog was to have been posted Tuesday, but a trip to Redneck Annapolis, er, Put-In-Bay postponed the post.

Yes, the subject is a quote from Miss Saigon...but why can't a poker player be culturally aware? Why does it have to make me ghey? It's an apt quote for poker though, don't you think?

Specifically, I played in the 50-50 last night (Monday) and needless to say, things did not go well. I was out in the 700-800s, but it was how I went out that is so frustrating.

What is it about online poker specifically that makes you disbelieve? If poker is a story, from tournaments all the way down to hands, if there is a hand and the story doesn't add up, then you've probably uncovered a bluff. But what makes you skip to the end of a story, know the conclusion, and still make a stupid call anyway? What about online poker makes you think, "Nah, I have to be wrong, he can't have me beat?"

I thought the difficult part of poker would be knowing when I was beat...being able to read my opponents and play like the cards are face-up. But I've found, the more I play, that the most difficult part is trusting my instincts, trusting my experience and laying down a hand when I know I'm beat.

For the longest time, I was playing at micro-limits and in micro-tournies and I kept telling myself "if only I could play higher limits and make advanced plays, trust my reads lay down hands." And yet, now that I am playing at a little higher stakes and in a little higher buy-in tournies, I am STILL acting like I'm playing pacific poker donkeys.

Specifically, in the 50-50, I picked up JJ in early position. I bumped it up about 2.5x big blind. I usually don't do this, I almost always bet 3 or 3.5x big blind and I consider this my first mistake. I get two callers and the flop comes down coordinated under-cards. I am first to act and I make a 1/2 pot bet. I'm okay with this as I think I am trapping over-cards that might make a stab at the pot. One guy folds, but the second player re-raises me. If I fold my hand right here, I would still have about 800 or 900 chips. And I don't know how, but I know instantly he has hit a set. I feel it.

So do I lay down the hand to fight another day when I have the best of it? Nope. I push the rest of my chips into the pot, he flips his set of nines and I am down to like 75 chips and out the next hand. If poker is truly about making the right decisions, what do you do if you make the right decision, you just habitually do the opposite? How do you learn to trust that instinct that's telling you, "Lay the hand down you f-ing moron. You didn't listen to me when I told you not to eat that 40oz of steak...for the love of God, listen to me know."

Full Tilt account is down to $88.

Monday, July 30, 2007

DD, send your bribe checks to: AlCantHang

I have been bottling this up inside because when a friend does you a favor, you never want to look that proverbial gift horse in the proverbial mouth. Unless, say, that gift horse went off as a "lock" at 4-1 and ended up more interested in some lead pony on the outside fence and finishes seventh. Not that I'm bitter.

But, no, this gift horse was my buddy DD agreeing to fill in for me in the finals of the BBT that I have blogged about from time-to-time. For a refresher, this is the natural disaster where various poker bloggers meet-up several times a week, earning points for various prizes and a season-ending freeroll made up of a fraction of the Full Tilt juice taken out for each event.

Despite cashing in only one of the weekly events and a HORSE special event or two, my middling-average play earned me a spot in the freeroll. 56 entrants, 12 paid, going for somewhere in the neighborhood of 1K. Naturally, I agree to play in a buddy's home game the night of the freeroll...and despite pleading him to set-up a wireless connection in advance so I could play the freeroll in between hands of "3-5-7" and "pass the whore" ... I was going to be shut out of the tourney. I figured even if I didn't play a hand, I would outlast 20% of the field.

BUT...with my pride on the line as at least one of the 56 in the tournament have read this blog at least once, I decided to call upon a friend to play in it for me. I will not publicly give out DD's location or occupation (his FT name is ohiocopywriter), but I play in a poker league with him and a fantasy football league with him so suffice it to say, I consider him a brother. In addition, he isn't a half-bad poker player. Rather excitable and aggressive, he's somewhat the antithesis of me. Well, at least the aggressive part. But that doesn't give him the ultimate credentials in my book. Rather, DD is the only person I know (aside from myself) who would show-up in a stranger's house in a rural community known only for its NHRA events...buy-in for a tourney...and then go back.

Luckily, DD was available and after an e-mail that said, "Wow...they're going to be confused by my playing style" ... he was off. I kept checking my e-mail and text messages throughout the hands of "Auction" and "Bundles" and other high-skill poker games, but alas, not a single update from DD. I could only assume he was flying high and couldn't be bothered. I wasn't worried about motivation as I had agreed to split any proceeds with him and DD needs money in his Full Tilt account like Michael Vick does in his attorney fee account.

I wrap-up in the home game about midnight and head home. I am two minutes from my front door when the ding of a text message comes through on my phone. "DD must be on a break" I think. Instead, the message reads something like, "I really blow at poker, here are a few excuses, but the bottom line is you were one of the first ones out...I am complete scum and you never should have put faith in me. I am going to go drown myself in a toilet." Well, it SOUNDED like that anyway.

Anyone who has ever played the ponies knows the feeling of getting the first, second and fourth place horses in your trifecta and hoping for an inquiry and a placing you know is not coming. Well, for the first time in my life, that inquiry sign actually popped up on the toteboard. Apparently the ordinarily reliable Full Tilt servers crapped out and the tournament was canceled. Thanks to the hard-work of Mr.Al, the tournament has been rescheduled and FT even added several hundred to the prize pool.

So, DD, your bribe to FT and Al worked...and I appreciate it. I only ask that you forget the username and password I gave you and instead, sign-on Thursday under your own soiled name and rail me so that all in BBT-land can give you the ridicule you so richly deserve.

No offense.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

F*** the 50-50

I think I'm going to propose. This love-have thing is so much like a marriage it's scary. It's 9:40 and I'm out. KK UTG, raise 4x the big blind in first level...first hand I've played all night...ONE person folds and eight go to the flop. Comes 10-X-X two spades...I bet pot, two folds and a guy pushes...everyone folds around to me...I have about 600 invested in the pot at this point...sure, I could fold here and live to fight another day with 1,400...but can I really do that with KK in this position and he so OBVIOUSLY be on a flush draw? Not me. I call, he flips 9-10 of spades, catches trip 10s on the turn and goodnight gracie. Good news is the flush didn't hit. *cough*

Stupid play by me? I have to call there right? Should I have pushed and made him call? Perhaps that's the right play. Regardless...I'm going to sleep so I can help with the baby in a couple hours.
My first finish in the quadruple digits...

Good times.

Ready to talk about it...

This post may ramble incessantly, I haven't decided yet...but I have a lot on my mind.

First of all, the post below regarding my disappointing (to say the least) performance in the 50-50 on Sunday...I finished somewhere in the 900s. Ouch. But then my wife said, "Nice...you're out before I am even asleep. Shut off the computer and go to sleep so you can help with the baby later." Double ouch.

I was "girly chatting" as my blogger friends call me with a non-poker playing friend during the 50-50 and I complained about the two hands that crippled me. Both times I railed on the "donkey" who played "that hand" into my raise and flopped "that" ... how could he do that, blah blah. But do you know what I realized? I never complain when I run my KK into AA. Or when my 99 loses to AQ late in a tourney. You know why? I got my money in when I thought I had the best of it and it just didn't work out. It's always the hands where I have Top-pair, Top-kicker and try to bully a guy out of a pot when he's slow-playing a set and I'm too dense to realize it...those are the hands I berate the donkeys for. After all, isn't it easier to scream at the donkeys than admit holes in our game?

On another topic, I was going to take a run at the $50 satellite to the $500,000 guarantee on Sunday instead of the 50-50. But my lovely wife had her heart set on this "concert in the park" that started at 6. I have NEVER played in the major Sunday tourney...something always comes up. And I felt like I had been playing well in the 50-50 and it was time to try to blindly weave my way through the shitstorm that is the Sunday tourney. But it was not to be. And I was angry. I was tilting before the orchestra played the first few bars of "Yankee Doodle Dandy."

Needless to say, the first thing I did was fire up Full Tilt when we got home. It was around 8:15 so too late for 50-50 satellites and too early for the tourney itself. So what is there to do, but fire up the PL Omaha tables? I started three-tabling and before I could get ITunes started, I was down $80. Not a huge deal...except that with a $50 buy-in to the 50-50 staring me in the face, my bankroll of $250 is suddenly down below my Mendoza-line of $130. So I was in a bad mood for missing the $500K, I was pissed about a few hands of Omaha and I charged into the 50-50 with an attitude. And look where it got me. Nice Tilt. Ass.

To that end, I don't know how, I don't know why, but I FIRMLY believe that there is a correlation between your mood/attitude and your gambling "luck." I don't believe in luck per se, I believe that it's just a mathematical entity, but a session, a year and even our lives are a small sample size and sometimes too small to see the odds play out. That said, there is SOMETHING that ties luck to attitude. I could say that it's your decisions in poker, but how do you explain blackjack or *shudder* slot machines or even horse racing? Scared money is bad money and mad money is bad money. But I'm not sure why.

I played in the 50-50 last night to get the taste of Sunday's debacle out of my mouth. I played pretty well, more akin to my style, early on, but about 30 minutes in I got tricky with AQ with a bunch of paired undercards on the board. I had zero respect for my heads-up opponent and thought I could bet him off his hand by force of will. Not when he flopped a boat. I was down from 2,500 chips to 500. One of my resolutions is to be a better short-stack player and I took this opportunity to start. I was down to 25% of my starting stack, but blinds were still about 20/40 so it wasn't completely hopeless. Long story short, I played my game, scratched and clawed and finished in the money for a satisfying $85ish payday.

I still love the 50-50 and I still have a LONG way to go with the mental part of my game. Bankroll is at $275.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Not ready to talk about it

But let's just say that the Omaha tables on Sunday and Sunday's 50-50 did not go well. I think my aforementioned average finish may have just jumped 500 spots.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Like Peas and Carrots

"We go together like peas and carrots" -- Forrest...Forrest Gump.

Scanning back through my performance in the 50-50 on Full Tilt, I have played the tourney five times, satelliting in once for total buy-ins around $230. In those five tournaments, I have cashed for $342 and an average finish of 215...almost always, 153 make the money in these tournaments. While I am not going to make a living with these finishes, for a recreational player who vastly prefers tournaments to cash games...this is the best bang for my buck that I have found on any site.

I told a friend of mine last night (who specializes in six-handed SNGs) that the same reasons I love these tourneys are the same reasons he would hate them. You start with a fantastic amount of chips relative to the blinds...the structure is slow and even...with a flat pay structure. Bravo, Full Tilt. Bravo. And on top of that, the $2 rebuy satellite at 6:40 is a donkfest just waiting to be taken. So a $55 buy-in can easily turn into $10.

That said, as much as I love this tournament, I feel like I am stuck in a rut of mediocrity. I play so few tournaments with less than 500 players that my "end-game" is dreadful. And worse yet, as I have previously opined, I am always playing tournaments above my bankroll so the money means something. This leads to a lot of finishes between 50-250 and good, but not great performances. Last night is a perfect example.

Most recently, last night I bought directly in and as I scanned the table, I didn't recognize a single name. Usually a good sign. It was a weak table and I was able to pick and choose my spots and they would still pay me off regardless of my image. I quickly doubled-up before going card-dead until well after the first break. One of the best things about this tournament is that few people understand the relevance of the blinds to chip ratio. So you will find people with 3,000 chips getting "desperate" at the 80/160 level. They're easy to pick out and exploit. Utilizing that strategy, I built my chip stack up to a little over $10,000 and pretty much folded my way into the money with a few well-timed steals despite not seeing anything other than a KK which was folded around.

Once in the money, I loosened up and tried to steal a little more frequently and unfortunately got caught a few times. I was getting short and pushed with 99 in early position. I got called by AK and doubled up to over 12,000. After a few successful steals I was sitting on a stack around 24,000-25,000 and about 26 out of 35 or so. My table was pretty weak and I felt confident that this was my turn for a deep run. Then came the evidence of my lack of end-game. I wake-up to 10-10 in the small blind. It's folded around to the hijack and he bumps 2.5x the big blind. I knew this was a bet that signified something, not a steal, but was most likely a mediocre hand and almost surely a drawing hand. K-Q, Ace-rag...something of that nature. So it's up to me.

Logically...at this point...with blinds and antes high and pocket tens...what do you do? CLEARLY you push. If he is on a draw and given his stack around 30,000 he is not want to go to war with KQ. Most likely. But no. My thought process went like this. I can call his bet and still have over 20,000 chips if a high card comes on the flop and promptly check-fold...living to fight another day and maybe make the next $30 payout level. All this for an extra $30. So I just call.

BB folds and we go to the flop heads-up. Clearly the flop comes A-Q-5 rainbow so my likely scenario comes to pass. So CLEARLY I check-fold...or MAYBE re-raise and represent a monster...but no. At 2:15 a.m. and my bravado rising in dreams of a final table, my adrenaline tells me that he had KJ or something and I push my last $20,000. He insta-calls and flips A-7. Say what you will about an instacall in this situation with A-7, but my play was stupid. I read him perfectly and even though I made the incorrect play pre-flop for maximum EV, I still gave myself an out that I refused to take post-flop.

Idiot.
I was out in 30th place for ~$200. Not a bad return and continued success in the 50-50, but it could have and should have been much better.

Thanks to an ill-advised trip to the .50/$1 pot limit omaha table and an untimely QQQ loss to a rivered straight with the money all-in on the turn and a peer-pressured entry into a $26 LIMIT Omaha Hi/Lo tournament that was akin to paint drying...my account sits somewhere in the $290 range. Over doubling my buy-in from last month, but continuing on the roller coaster of my last few weeks.

Stuipid is as Stupid does.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cool Product Plug

I know that with some blogs, it's difficult to tell if a post has been "bought and paid for." One of the benefits of a blog that nobody reads is that nobody would pay for me to post anything either. So you can rest assured that the content is all my own.

I just discovered a brilliant little service called jott.com. I may be the only one, but I do my best thinking in the car. But invariably by the time I get home, the thought is gone or I have forgotten. Or to make it poker relevant...if you are playing in a tourney and want to make notes on a hand, but don't have time to type or don't want to mess with hand histories...then use jott!

It's free...you sign-up...put your cell number in...and then you can call jott's 800 number and dictate a message to yourself. Jott will then transcribe it and e-mail it to whatever e-mail address you provide. A hand or an entire blog...all without pressing a key.

As my boys from Guinness say...BRILLIANT!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

PoPo

I know this is hardly the reason the three of you reading this still visit this modest space. But I hope you will indulge me. As I said, my grandfather, or PoPo, passed away last Thursday. His funeral is tomorrow. And in advance of my eulogy, I drafted a few quick thoughts that I think can serve as my blog post in honor of him. Thank you.

Good morning.

I greatly appreciate you all taking time this morning to celebrate the life of the man I called PoPo. I hope you will all indulge me as I take the next few minutes to reflect on his life as seen through MY eyes.

Many people are defined by what they choose to do for a living. As most of you know, PoPo was a WWII veteran and he retired from Ford after over 30 years at the Lima plant. But he wasn’t defined by his job and I believe he could have been almost anything.

First and foremost, I think everyone in this room knows that PoPo could have been a stand-up comic. I know you ALL heard this one. A guy walks up to a boy at a gas station…the boy is sitting with a dog. The man asks if the boy’s dog bites. He says no. The man goes to pet the dog and the dog bites him. The guy says to the boy, I asked if your dog bites and the boy says, that’s not my dog. Comic genius. A joke for every occasion. Yesterday as people came to pay their respects, I can’t tell you how many people said something about PoPo’s sense of humor or his predilection for being ornery. He certainly could have been a comic.

If he didn’t want to be in front of the camera or in front of the crowd, I think he still had a job in the entertainment industry as a movie critic. Movie critics don’t like anything. And I know for a fact that PoPo hasn’t liked a movie since Julie Andrews was gracing the fake Alps in the Sound of Music. He even had the personality trait to sit through movies he didn’t like. I remember a time he and MoMo went to the Wapak theatre to see what they thought was a movie with the late, great Walter Mathieu set on a cruise ship. What they saw instead was a disaster of a film with Cuba Gooding Jr…set on a cruise ship. He and MoMo sat through the entire movie without saying a word…but as they left the theatre, they turned to each other and asked, “Was that the movie you thought it was going to be?” If his son could eke out a career as a sportswriter, he certainly could have been a movie critic.

Writing may be in the genes, but the gambling gene just MIGHT be passed down in our family as well. You know it’s bad when you send your grandchildren to the venerable Zip Stop for some scratch-off bingo tickets and the person behind the counter says, “Are you Wig’s grandkid?” I also learned betting on horses from PoPo. Well, at least $2 win tickets on his friend's horses. And when they went to Vegas for the first time, I have never seen someone so mesmerized by the nickel slots and so happy to have jet black hands from the oft-handled coins.

In Vegas, I personally witnessed another possible occupation for my PoPo. Foodie or food connoisseur. We took he and MoMo to a “fancy” restaurant in Vegas called Hugo’s Cellar. It has all the touches…women get roses, they put cheesecloth on your lemons in the iced tea so the seeds don’t get in your drink. They had everything. For your salad, they brought a cart to your table filled with well over 20 items they could put on your salad. The dialogue between the waiter and PoPo went something like this: “Sir, would you like shrimp?” “No.” “Garbanzo Beans?” “No.” “Radicchio?” No. “ Beets? “What did you say? Beets. Oh. No.” And so on. At the end I think he had just lettuce and cheese. But not bleu cheese. That cost extra at Brown’s and PoPo didn’t like it when you ordered bleu cheese.

Motivational Speaker. There’s a completely embellished story floating around about me hiding behind a furnace one year when it came time for baseball try-outs…but my favorite story proving PoPo’s Dr. Phil tendencies involved my dad playing baseball when he was younger. Much younger. There was a pitcher throwing pretty hard. I think dad was slightly intimidated. PoPo yelled out, “Stand in there! He won’t hit you!” As I recall, dad, there was a trip to the hospital and a cast that followed. But hey, PoPo got dad to stand in there.

I asked my brother what his favorite memory of PoPo was yesterday and he answered, “Ohio State football games.” I found that hard to argue with and after having season tickets for so long, I think PoPo could have easily been a stadium docent. I mean, nobody talked to more people in C-Deck than PoPo. And everytime we would hike all the way up those three never-ending levels he would ask someone if they installed the elevator yet. Every game. PoPo, they installed those elevators and I am firmly convinced you were the reason why.

Finally, I think everyone knows PoPo could have easily been an Advertising Executive. I mean, everyone has seen those commercials that were modeled after his life. The commercials may have featured Scandanavians, but we know they were based on PoPo. You know the ones, where complete strangers were brought together all over a pack of Mentos? Yeah. Clearly ripped off his life story. If there’s someone in here that wasn’t offered a piece of candy by my grandfather at some point, they’re in the wrong church because you’ve never been in the same ZIP CODE as PoPo. On the way to an aforementioned Ohio State game, the traffic was slightly worse than trying to make a left turn on Defiance and someone let PoPo in. As he got off at Olentangy River Rd., with thousands of rabid Buckeye fans desperately trying to get in to see the game, PoPo stopped the car in the middle of traffic, unbuckled his seatbelt and walked back to that man that had let him in and offered him a Mentos. THAT was my PoPo.

Yes, he could have been anything he wanted to be.

But what he WAS, was a loving husband for over 50 years to MoMo…a proud father to dad and Mark…a father figure to my mother…a loving brother to Gene and Harold and a true family patriarch to many in this room. But most importantly to me, he was the quintessential grandfather. He attended as many of my basketball games as he could (even when it was just to watch me clapping for my teammates from the sidelines). He knew the path to get ice cream and could get there with his eyes closed. Was always willing to take my brother and I to any county fair we desired.

But what I will always remember most about PoPo was how comfortable and how loved I felt in his presence. There wasn’t a place in this world that I felt more “at home” than at MoMo and PoPo’s. No matter what was happening in my life, I knew there was a safe-haven on Glyncrest. And one of my greatest joys was watching my kids, Audrey and Sidney, take to their great-grandfather the same way I had. It didn’t matter what PoPo looked like, whether he was in a wheelchair in his later years or whatever, Sidney was immediately drawn to him. She felt that same comfort, that same love. And I promise I will do everything in my power to make sure she remembers that about her PoPo and to ensure Audrey knows how lucky she is to have met her PoPo for even such a brief time.

He could have been anything. But today, I thank God he was my PoPo. I love you.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Definition of Tilt...

My grandfather passed away unexpectedly on Thursday.

It was a shock and I will probably write more about it later. But I'm not quite ready so I'm going to get this back to poker. For now.

After spending the day with my dad and my grandmother, I got home, mentally and physically exhausted. So what did I do? Of course drink a bottle of wine and four-table full tilt. Not exactly Barry Greenstein's recommendation in Ace on the the River. I played like the world owed me pots. I played like every re-raise or raised blind was a personal affront. Omaha, PL Hold'em, HORSE...I had them all going at once. I bought directly into the 50-50 at 9:30.

I think you all know how this story ends. I lost at every cash table I played and busted out of the 50-50 around 300 or so and the top 153 got paid. All told, I took my account from around $260 to $70 in one ill-advised session. I stuck to my limits in cash games, but had far too many tables going and buying directly into the 50-50 was an obvious deviation.

Naturally last night, with my wife boozing it up at some fondue restaurant, I put the kids to bed and took my last $70 and bought directly into the 50-50. I know that was stupid, but let's ignore it for just a bit and let me just take a second to say that I absolutely love this tournament. You know how some golf holes are set-up perfectly for your game? Like the holes with fifty yards of fairway in front of you and 200 yards of fairway at a 90-degree angle just perfect for your slice? That's how I eel about the 50-50. I always wondered how pros could claim that if these tournaments were set-up right, they could cash 70% of the time. I truly feel that if I had the bankroll to play this tournament four or five times a week, I would cash two times and go pretty deep once.

All told, last night I finished somewhere around 60th when my nut flush draw didn't get there on the turn or the river. $140ish payout brings the account back up to $150. I haven't seen an experiment fail as badly as this one since (insert cliched failed experiment reference here..perhaps you prefer EuroDisney or New Coke or Crystal Pepsi).

Sure, I could use my grandfather's passing as an excuse, but in poker, there will always be a "tiltable" offense lurking to destroy your bankroll and "donkify" your game.

*sigh*

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ummm...this is really embarassing

It's one thing to completely implode in the comfort of your own home, ITunes in your earphones, lights off so as not to wake the kids or worse yet, the wife. At times like those, routinely breaking any pre-determined set of rules is just met with self-flagellation and an undeniable urge for a double Woodford Reserve.

But to blog about it...to sound like a broken record...to every day wake up, fire up the Acer Aspire and carefully craft an explanation for your lack of discipline...calls for TWO Woodfords.

Bottom line: Full Tilt account = $258.40. Oh yeah, I forgot one other sentiment. Guilt.

Yesterday, I fired up the FT client and sat down at two PL .25/.50 HE tables and started the grind. I was down $1 at one table and up $2.50 at the other when I thought, eh, perhaps I should investigate the Omaha Hi tables. Doh.

Sure as shootin' there was only one "full" table that was even remotely within my bankroll, but EXACTLY the table I vowed to stay away from: .50/$1. But I figured, what the heck...only play the nuts, right? A mere 25 minutes later, I had run my $55 short buy-in up to over $200, back down to $50, up to $185 and down to $110. For those with the 'roll to play these limits, that volatility is expected. Indeed, this should be considered a good session. But to me, these swings represented great opportunity and great opportunity for ruin.

To make matters worse, I joined one of the $26 token frenzy tournaments during my Omaha run, closed out the tables I SHOULD have been playing and proceeded to donk off my entire stack in the first level. My thinking? "I'm up so much at the Omaha table that this really doesn't matter...I'll either run this up and coast into a token or bust out and go back to hoping to fill up my boat on the river to beat the nut flush I know I'm up against in Omaha."

Repeat after me, "Relatively (for your bankroll) Hi Limit Omaha is not a sure-fire slot machine...Relatively (for your bankroll) Hi Limit Omaha is not a sure-fire slot machine"

Disaster.

But all alcoholics *ahem* Mel Gibson *ahem* have slip-ups and as a bankroll-demolishing-addict I expect no less from myself. I still have the desire. I just hope the follow-through will follow soon.

Until then...anyone up for Omaha?